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Saturday, 1 January, 2000, 04:40 GMT
The Clintons' showbiz celebration

Dinner date: Muhammad Ali met President Clinton

President Clinton ushered in the new millennium in the US at a star-studded outdoor concert at Washington's Lincoln Memorial.

Singers Tom Jones, Bobby McFerrin and Kenny Rogers, actors Robert Duvall and Diane Keaton, plus a Spielberg premiere, were among the attractions on the bill at the Hollywood-style gala.

The event - America's Millennium: A Celebration for the Nation - was produced by recording legend Quincy Jones and film director George Stevens Jr.

The festivities kicked off with McFerrin singing the national anthem, followed by a Dixieland march. Actor and singer Will Smith took over to perform a millennial rap dressed in a zoot suit.

Tom Jones was in fine voice for the gala
He was followed by Tom Jones and Kenny Rogers. Jones gave a characteristically gusty rendition of his hit It's Not Unusual, while Rogers gave a blast of one of his best known songs The Gambler.

The president's wife Hillary Clinton then welcomed the crowd of thousands to the Lincoln Memorial, which was bathed in blue light for the event.

The last hour of 1999, featured a specially produced 18-minute film by Steven Spielberg. Called The Unfinished Journey, it featured highlights of the 20th century and prospects for the 21st, accompanied by an orchestra playing an original score by composer John Williams.

As many as 300,000 people are thought to have attended the festivities in Washington, filling the Mall from the Lincoln Memorial at its western end to the outskirts of the Washington Monument. Many revellers trying to get into the gala event were however disappointed by the limit imposed on numbers.

Banquet bash

Earlier in the evening The Clinton's hosted an all-star party for hundreds of guests at the White House, after a day of speeches about the future.

Italian movie legend Sophia Loren added glamour to the US celebrations
The theme of the banquet was a salute to American achievement, and the guests included luminaries and creators from across the spectrum.

Playwright Neil Simon, movie stars Liz Taylor, Sophia Loren and Jack Nicholson, opera diva Jessye Norman and boxing great Muhammad Ali were among those present.

The 350 guests dined on a menu that included beluga caviar and lobster, truffle marinated rack of lamb and a chocolate and champagne delight for dessert.

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See also:
01 Jan 00 |  World
Year 2000 reaches West coast
31 Dec 99 |  Entertainment
Stars light up new millennium
01 Jan 00 |  Entertainment
In pictures: UK's showbiz spectacular

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